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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  December 6, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PST

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neighborhoods, schools, and train. in his autobiography mandela reflected on his experience growing up under apartheid. an african child born in an africa only hospital taken in africaon only bus, living in africaon only area, ride africaon only bus, train and be stopped any time day or not and asked to produce a pass. his life with regulations that cripple his growth, dim his potential and stunt his life. this was the reality. against that backdrop, mandela would become the man who neerm si -- nearly single handedly changed the fate changing to multi-p dimensional. he was suspended for participation in a protest, by the early 1950st and '60s
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mandela had grown political in the leader of congress fighting apartheid. in 1961 he gave his first tv interview. >> the africans prior want franchise on the basis of one man one vote. we have made it very clear in our policy that south africa is a country of many. following numerous arrests for peaceful protests, anc's protest land mandela in prison for 27 years on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. the terms were notorious and brutal. the sentence confined him to a small cell for 27 years. for 18 of those years, mandela was allowed only one visitor a year for 30 minutes. he was able to write and receive one letter every six months and he was sentenced to hard labor.
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in those same decades that mandela lost his eldest son and mother, he was not allowed to attend their funerals. the miracle of mandela, after missing three decades of his life, after being closed off from three decades of change in the world mandela emerged without bitterness and without spite. upon his release mandela emerged hopeful. so hopeful he remained committed to working with the very same people who once imprisoned him all in the name of finding a solution for the people of south africa. when i walked out of prison, he wrote in his autobiography, it was my mission to liberate the oppressed and oppressor both. to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains but live in a way that respects and enhances others. it is exactly what he did. at the age of 75 nelson mandela began negotiations to end apartheid and free the oppressed
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and oppressor both. working peacefully with south africa's president f.w. de klerk, the party that created the system of legal discrimination, he negotiated with the men who put him in prison. negotiations with de klerk took years but the end of apartheid did come. in 1993 de klerk and mandela won the nobel peace prize for their work together. apartheid was officially ended april 27th, 1994. on that day south africa held its first democratic election. that day nelson mandela cast the first vote of his life and was elected the president of south africa. >> today we're entering a new era for our country and its peop people. today we celebrate not the victory of the party but a
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victory for all the people of south africa. >> while mandela's presidency was only five years long, in that short time he managed to set south africa on a path to reconciliation, something that was deemed impossible only years before. but his legacy is not limited to one country on one continent. in concert with leaders including gandhi and martin luther king, mandela created a new template for leadership and a new model for peace in the world. indeed in the struggle for human rights mandela has been and still is a guiding light for the oppressed, forgotten and the lost. when i travel to the zimbabwe border as part of a human rights canal pain for children, young people were streaming across the border by hundreds. they were alone with nothing but the clothes on their backs and they were bound for south africa driven by the rank poverty, economic calamity and horrific violence visited upon them by their brutal president. parentless and penniless, these
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children had no idea what awaited them on the other side of the border. they had irrepressible hope that what was in south africa was better. there was a time when thought long before that when black children would not have thought south africa as a place to turn in a time of desperation. a country so bitterly divided on racial lines, one that so clearly pronounced one color superior to the other could not reasonably be considered a place of amnesty and safe harbor. these children leaving families in zimbabwe, walking on foot arriving in south africa that would help them. that is a testament to mandela's leg ski. he changed a nation. in so doing established a standard of decency and equality that remains a beacon to men and women all over the world, one whose lives unfold in the darkest of hours. while he will ever be known by his tribal name, madiba but he
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claimed he was an ordinary later under extraordinary circumstances. he was born july 18, 1918. the century he lived through was a time of fundamental breathtaking change in no small part because of life he lived and the man he was. when we come back, chris matthews, eugene robinson, nicolas kristof karen finney and reverend sharpton join me to discuss the legacy of nelson mandela. that's next. and a few easy ste. weeknight dinner in a flash. and my family devours them. pillsbury grands biscuits. make dinner pop. you're talking to the guy who hasn't approved a new stapler purchase in three years. but then i saw the new windows tablet, with a real keyboard, usb port, and full office. it's a tablet that works for work. plus, it's got apps and games, for after hours, of course.
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action, the first thing that i ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid. >> that first political act came
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during barack obama's sophomore year of college when he helped plan a rally calling on the school to divest itself from doing business with companies in south africa. as the "chicago tribune" reported he opened in street theater speaking a couple of minutes when two white students in paramilitary dress dragged him away mid sentence. that cameo so impressed rebecca rivera, another rally participant that she wondered why he hadn't been more politically active on campus. she made a mental note at the time to get him involved. the college didn't divest but a new leader inspired by nelson mandela was reborn. as president obama later said in his memoir, i noticed people had begun to listen to my opinion. it was a discovery that made me hungry for words. the president and first lady will travel to africa next week to pay their respects. joining us from washington, among our many other guests, austin, not washington, is
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msnbc's very own chris matthews. chris, we have a whole panel in new york. i want to go to you first. you spoke with the president yesterday. there's a lot of talk about nelson mandela's legacy but i want to start with the man himself. nelson mandela was not just a leader of south africa, he was a global visionary. you spent time in south africa. i wonder as a man interested in struggles of democracy and repressed people and the foundations of democracy and principles of it around the world, what is your experience with the legacy of nelson mandela? >> he really was put away. robben island was really ban issuing him from south africa. i was down there teaching business in swaziland on the border there and would read south african newspapers and the craziness of that society with petty apartheid issues all the time, passport enforcement, all the elements of a fascist-type society that was required to
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keep everybody separate from each other. of course he was off there by himself and didn't get a lot of play. i remember going down there in 1985 with african-american delegation working for the speaker of the house. there was nothing as dramatic in my life as sitting there watching several south african poll situations go head to head with him. his blood veins were popping. he was yelling at them. he said i can talk to the black man but not the white liberal, how strange he was trying to hold onto this society. there he was in this white man's dream land of all these servants around, people wearing fezes and sashes. it was the strangest thing in the world showing off his power to this group of african-american leaders. he was fighting to the last. all of a sudden they broke. f.w. de klerk came along,
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knocked him off and said it's time -- we're going to concede this. it's going to be black rule. because of mandela they had a leader they could turn it over to. it was very important there was a strong black leader the whites could turn it over to you and not turn it over to chaos. all the years i was in africa i learned one strong rule from the very small white minority that lived over there. they loved strong african leaders, they were afraid of chaos and tribal warfare. if they could find a leader they could trust, they were willing to turn the power over to him. that was a weird part of being a black -- not a black nationalist but leader was that the whites would trust him to keep order and protect him. isn't that ironic? yet i think that's one of the reasons they gave away power in the end. >> we're going to do a lot of dissecting of the legacy of nelson mandela. one thing that strikes me is how completely self-contained he was insofar as he went through this horrible condition in jail.
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he was living in a society incredibly oppressive yet he had this internal sort of moral compass that never wavered from true north. at the same time as much as he was graceful and dignified, he was an incredibly shrewd negotiator with his white captors, white government that sought to repress him and he was a fighter to the end as chris points out. >> i think at some point in that 27 years of incarceration, he developed this real commitment toward the end goal and decided that sometime your tactics have to be in a way that does not show your emotions, show any other than what you're trying to achieve. it may mean you have to compromise, risk the distrust of your base, but your eye is on the prize. i think that's what he did. he operated with such a laser focus on the end, he achieved
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it. i was one of the election observers in '94, i went over. after they voted in three days. you don't vote on a president, anc won, you vote on a party. we were in a hotel in a gathering with mr. mandela. i'll never forget, he said you cannot be afraid to grow and evolve. you have got to be willing to continue to grow, if you're going to be effective, and he grew. you've got to remember there were a lot of nationalist groups that said he had turned soft, sold out. there were a lot of different tensions there. he was able to withstand the hatred and opposition of the african, a whites and he was focused on democracy. >> he was incredibly tenacious in that he had the question of black nationalism versus the question of integration. eugene, you have a great piece and i'll read an exert of it
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today. we should remember not only the man who embraced his former enemies but also the man who refused to be bowed by those enemies, who remained militant despite 27 years of imprisonment who walked out of jail with his head held high and eyes toward the future. >> we think of nelson mandela and see that smile that's like sunshine. it just lights up anyplace. i only had the experience of meeting him once, it was in '94 and he was already nelson mandela. but before, long before, it wasn't that he wasn't an gri and have that bitterness but he knew how to channel it and get beyond it. that was in a sense a real part of the drive he had and focus he had. just listening to all the stories you hear about him in the last day, someone was
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telling a story about him in prison and how when he was on robben island, he never acted like a prisoner. he had the bearing and command presence not of a prisoner but of, in fact, the guy that was running the joint. >> there's frequent talk of the nobility with which mandela carried himself. that translated, nick, you pointed this out today into his generosity with both the people that were against him, the folks imprisoning him. you write in your column my favorite fact about nelson mandela was that he lived -- he invited one of his white jailers who helped imprison him 20 years to the inauguration as south african president. it was the sign of nelson mandela. >> a huge frustration whether in africa or america with politicians largely about themselves, largely self-absorbed. the thing that struck me about
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mandela throughout his career was his willingness to sacrifice his legal career, his family, 27 years of freedom, potentially second or third term as president for his country, sacrifice his base who admired him. he really pushed back at them. i think the other thing that really strikes me is that the whole word is united in mourning this man. when he needed the world they were looking the other way and talking about him as a terrorist. >> we begin this footage and i'm going to play some of chris matthews interview with the president last night. there's a sense that history or hindsight is 20/20. nelson mandela if you were ronald reagan or margaret thatcher -- >> he was a terrorist, called a terrorist. >> beyond controversial.
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>> there were all sorts of theories about the cia potentially involved in his capture. but there's one thing about nelson mandela i think is very important for all of us to remember. when you read his autobiography, he never saw himself as lesser than white south africans. he was able to treat everyone with a level of decorum and respect but expected it back. he never saw himself -- i think particularly in america, so much of the american civil rights movement was reminding african-americans and still is, reminding young children of color, you are equal, you do deserve the exact same things. i think that made a huge difference. >> i think part of that was if you understand he was born in royalty. he was born to a certain manner. his self-concept, he that
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naturally and he never lost it. because he didn't have that insecurity, he didn't need all that to become a leader. his vanity never outran his sanity. >> talking about the legacy of nelson mandela, we're talking about how those qualities of grace, dignity, humility have been inherited or visited on later generations. i want to play an excerpt from your interview with the president last night where he himself takes a remarkably humble posture as far as being commander in chief, president of the united states. lets take a listen to that. >> the interesting thing about now having been president for five years. it makes you humbler as opposed to cockier as to what you as an individual can do. you recognize you're just part of the sweep of history. your job is to push the boulder up the hill a little bit before
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somebody else pushes it furs. >> chris, i thought that was an amazing moment in the obama presidency hearing him say that. also in the context of what we're talking about in terms of what makes him a great leader. your comments on the president? >> of course, i didn't like hearing it. i guess some of his enemies liked hearing it. kind of a profound recognition of limitations from a man who spoke of wanting to lead a transformational presidency. last night in spelling it out, i said can't we compromise and get some things done. he said, great changes only come when one party calls the shots, whether it was roosevelt in the early '30s or lbj after canada's assassinati assassination, early part of ronald reagan. that's sad to me because i don't think we'll get one party for a long time. i see us split down the middle for a long time. he's basically saying we can't
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do anything big until that's the case. that bothered me. there was a personal moment. howard fineman noticed it more than i did when he seemed to be talking in a rare way from a man who is somewhat distant about the personal problem he's had of being president. he's had to be scrutinized. he does not like being scrutinized. i don't know who does. he doesn't like being constantly attacked. nobody does. what keeps him going is the personal meetings he has with people when he finds out he may have saved a life because of a child being able to get health insurance. it's almost the way when you talk to older members of congress and leave after long careers, what did you get done in all those re-elections and stupid fundraising and innumerable roll calls, whether or not did you get done? what they normally do is go back to particular people they have been able to help. that's a big change for a man so intellectual, so cosmic in his thinking. it now comes down to a situation
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of a human level saying i'm trying to get some things done. what keeps me going is human element and the ways i've been able to help individual people. that to me was sad because there's so many things he has to get done in the next three years. it looks like it's going to be very tough. >> it's interesting how different folks can hear that comment in different ways. to be president one must have such an inflated sense of ego. here is a president who acknowledges his own humanity. as chris says, there's a lot of work to be done. by virtue of the fact nelson mandela was south africa's first black president, president obama is the first black president, there is huge expectations for president obama. one of the tragedies of the obama presidency he has no one to work with. in the same way you had f.w. de klerk on the other side of the aisle who was willing to make a deal in the end with nelson mandela or at least come to the table, the president had much greater ambitions for parts of
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his presidency but has no one to work with. >> i think there's a lot of differences between how mandela became the first black president of south africa and united states president obama. one of the differences addressing directly your point. at what point we don't know, de klerk and his allies decided it was in their interest to make mandela's presidency successful for south africa. they didn't like it. they ran against him. but for the good of the nation, to have this great reconciliation, we need to make this work. i don't think that has happened with president obama. there are those that have said that no matter what, he can do whatever it is miraculous, we are determined to have his demise. and we don't care if the country itself is shut down, government,
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whatever. i think that's the big difference in the opposition they faced is the commitment to the country over your party's position. >> one lesson, i think, from mandela's example for president obama, for any leader, mandela never ceded the moral high ground. he always kept the moral high ground. and i believe that was in part his nature, and i believe that was in part a calculation that in the end, morality would work out. in the end the arc of history would bend toward moral justice. and i think that's a lesson. >> i don't think it's just the republicans that create the difference there. mandela in his one term, he was okay at managing the economy, okay at managing crime, not so great managing corruption. as eugene says, what he really stepped forward was his moral vision.
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he was a brilliant communicator. we expected that of obama. obama, in fact, has not been as president as brilliant a communicator as expected. he hasn't provided the same kind of moral vision in his speeches about health care, the economy -- >> recently. >> lately in touch with that. he's made pragmatic arguments more than this moral framework of an argument. i think maybe there's a lesson there for the white house from mandela. >> also need to think about what mandela was able to accomplish in the arc of history. it was years, very methodical -- even when they were in prison, they were planning for when they got out and what the government needed to look like. that was years and years and years. years and years of a lot of pressure coming from the outside. i actually think if we were going to have any kind of parallel to the united states, we should be asking ourselves what more could we do from the outside to create conditions.
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part of the reasons de klerk, they didn't have a choice. >> divestment were going to hurt. >> it was hurting. >> it was hurting and it was going to get worse. they had to get in front of this or else they would get run over the bus of history. >> also think, don't take lightly, as karen talked about those years that led to them taking the higher moral ground. they went in with a different philosophy. you can't compare a movement that evolved from we'll even use violence, we'll use that, young, brash guys, to evolve to moral giants, to the president who ran through the democratic primaries and beat john mccain. we're talking about a whole different presidency. >> i wonder what you think about the point karen was making, we need to create conditions conducive to foster leadership. one of the things i thought was interesting yesterday in your
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conversation with the president was how he bristled at the criticism of those on our channel, liberals, distaste he has for folks who are theoretically on his side of the aisle. i wonder if you think there's validity on that or not doing a good enough job to allow our leaders to succeed? >> well, i think we're right on msnbc. i think there has to be a real -- certainly we're right and people further left than me have a right to express their views. where else are they going to express them except networks like ours, especially our networks. if somebody is over there where elizabeth warren is or further left, speak out. we want to hear your ideas. they are as valid as ours. we have people center left but the left should be heard from. i think he's wrong to have a problem with that. there is a lot of murkyness. he pointed to the irs scandal.
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this administration wasn't quick to let us know what happened there. i still don't know what the chain of command was that led to the decision about deciding which of those 501 c 4 organizations should receive a tax exemption. it was never made clear. why shouldn't we expect the worst. my rule in politics, if it's better than it looks they will fix it. if it's worse they will make it stand. if they thought better they should have made it. that's the job of a politician. just for a second i want to point out something. i haven't heard anything as smart as what i heard reverend sharpton say in five years. that is the most perceptive thing i've seen. the difference f.w. de klerk handled the need for change and inevitable election, democratic election of nelson mandela, truly legitimate for nelson mandela, he was never legitimately elected. for him to recognize his role in
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history as a patriot at that point so different than the way mitch mcconnell handled the election of obama. so different. to set it up that way, the juxtaposition, they were willing, mcconnell people on the far right were willing to destroy the country to destroy obama. whereas to succeed in a country he live f.w. de klerk was wi to see it transformed to black rule so it could be done successfully so he could have his country have a better future. reverend, i owe it to you. i think that is the key statement about what happened yesterday, the loss of mandela and what his history is about and the key statement of why this has been so poisonous the last five years. we have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president. that's the most damming assessment i've heard and i think the truest. >> an important assessment. chris matthews, thank you. as always.
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you can see chris's full interview with president obama inch a reairing of "hardball" and of course catch him every day at 7:00 eastern. thank you to nick chrisoff of the "times" and reverend sharpton with the best takeaway of the last 24 hours. >> thank you. >> you can catch him every night at 6:00 p.m. eastern. coming up we'll look at nelson mandela's historic visit to the united states and speak with nobel peace prize laureate coming up. if i can impart one lesson to a
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moment ago former secretary of state hillary clinton offered her thoughts. >> nelson mandela will be remembered for many things. he'll certainly be remembered for the way he led, his dignity, his extraordinary understanding, not just of how to brink democracy and freedom to his beloved south africa but how important it was he first brought freedom to himself. >> we'll get thoughts from nobel peace prize laureate after the break. ellie weasel
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forgiveness with do. many men in the 20th and 21st
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century were famous, few were great. nelson mandela became one of the greatest.
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this is tom brokaw reporting on nbc's "nightly news." >> nelson mandela was honored by new york city in a way usually reserved for presidents, astronauts and hometown world series champs. he came here to continue his campaign against apartheid. president bush said u.s. sanctions would stay on until certain additional steps are taken. but for the most part this was a day to celebrate mandela. the man who spent 27 years in prison was given a hero's welcome. governor cuomo calling him a symbol of indestructibility of the human spirit. mandela seemed tired, not quite ready for it all. jesse jackson gave him a hand with his tie. he urged united states to pain main his tough policy against south africa as blacks there struggle for equality. >> the only way in which we can
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work together on this difficult road is for you to ensure that sanctions are applied. >> mandela! mandela! >> mandela and his wife winnie stopped by a brooklyn high school. they were greeted by 10,000 people. new york city honored mandela as no other city can. a ticker tape parade up broadway. mandela said he knew he had friends in new york but never dreamed he was so loved. the key to the city from mayor david dinkins. he then talked of unlocking the shackles of apartheid. >> a country which ban issues forever racism in all its forms. south africa shall be free.
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this struggle continues. thank you. >> joining me now on the phone is nobel peace price laureate elie wiesel. thanks for joining us. i know the club of nobel peace prize laureates is a very, very small one indeed. i wonder if you could share with us your thoughts on working with and meeting nelson mandela and what he was like as a machine. >> i met him actually two months after he got the nobel prize because we had the conference in the same place in oslo, which i organized. i invited him. he was already famous but he came to us as our guest. we had many, many conversations alone and together with other people. it was very special because he was an idol to so many men and
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women in the world who needed to identify in his or her fight for freedom. >> professor, you mentioned you had many conversations with nelson mandela and i'm wondering given both your extraordinary bodies of work on the subject of human rights, did those conversations inform or help you in your strategies in terms of how to combat repressive regimes around the world? >> they always help each other. the community of human rights activities. therefore all the members feel close to one another and they help one ood. they learn from another, so it was good. >> one last question. in terms of communication, one has a hard time imagining that you are all actual mere mortals. did you talk to him by phone? when was the last time you spoke with nelson mandela?
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>> much later. the first time we met actually was in oslo. this is the conference i invited him to the conference. in the car i said to him a few months from now you may come back and i come back here for different reasons, i'll come back here and celebrate you and you will get a nobel peace prize because i nominated you for it. it was really special. he was a really special man. >> nobel peace prize laureate professor elie wiesel. thank you for your thoughts and your time. after the break, positives signs for the u.s. economy. what they important tend for the soon to expire unemployment benefits. that's next. re, add a car, ah speak to customer service, check on a know, all with the ah, tap of my geico app. oh, that's so cool.
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what mark zandi said of today's job report, 203,000 jobs added in november. unemployment dropped from 7.3 to 7%, a five-year low. the white house is urging caution saying gains but unemployed corkers are driving the numbers. meanwhile jobless benefits for 1.3 long-term unemployed americans are set to expire at the end of the month. white house economist jason fuhrman said the add manage is open to working with congress to offset costs. while nelson mandela forged south african community he served for change around the globe technically in the u.s. we will discuss with the ceo of naacp ben jealous jones us. re's: if every u.s. home replaced one light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, the energy saved could light how many homes? 1 million?
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from his 8 by 7 foot prison cell on robben island where he spent decades of his life nelson mandela not only inspired people of south africa to emancipate themselves from a brutal system of apartheid his struggle inspired generations of future leaders throughout the world. in that way mandela lives on as a symbol for freedom, grace and humanity. joining me from san francisco is former president and ceo of the naacp ben jealous. thanks so much for joining us. >> thanks, alex. >> we're doing a lot of reminiscing. in terms of personal history how did you learn of mandela and how formative was his story in terms of your interest in civil rights? >> i think i was probably about 10 years old or so. my mom told me we had to stop drinking coke. that was not a small deal as a child who was already a fiend for caffeine and sugar.
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i really haven't drank caffeine since. >> good for you. >> i can recall being in the oakland coliseum, i think it was 1989, krs 1 was performing. then this living, breathing giant came out and all of us were in you a. we were so accustomed to our leaders being killed. here was a man who was fully human. he embraced violence self-defense when it was the most logical and yet deeply courageous thing to do. he had done hard time in prison and he had come out on outside showing us black people could take courageous stands and sur vooifg vif being on point as leader of a great movement and thrive on the other side. even though they embraced violence at one side as
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self-defense could embrace peace and unity and bringing people together as also in that moment the most logical and, again, most courageous thing you could possibly did. >> i'm going to open up to my friends in new york. eugene, you were talking before the break, independent of the man himself, the legacy what ben points out, the possibility this could happen in south africa, the man would be freed. that not only could he vote he would become president of the nation. in and of itself laid the foundation for where we are in america today. >> it made a lot of things that seemed impossible possible. it was so fast. 1990 he was out. 1994 he was president, in just four years. it was kind of a lightning thing. i remember the late '80s we were working to get families out in
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trouble with the government and provide some refuge. this was a lightning transition. i think maybe it made us think and know that change can happen quickly. maybe some of our expectations are unrealistic. maybe it doesn't always happen that quickly. >> i think the danger in moments like this, karen, is to overeulogize something and in so doing oversimplify it. i think some of the great comments today people recognize how difficult it was, as the ref said get to the point where he would be negotiating, remember, as eugene said change can happen but it can be hard. as we go through the american political system now, keep our eyes in the broad arc. >> i think those who lived during that time, participated in the protest against apartheid
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on universities or campuses, to have gone through that leaves you with a duty and responsibility. change is possible but possible when we all participate. that's part of what he understood. that's what reverend was talking about. he understood white south africans had to be part of the solution just as black south africans. when we think about it, it's incredible change can happen if we all do our part. >> ben, i want to ask you, when we talk about the next generation of leaders, do you feel we're invested collectively in our future in an equal society as we once were? >> yes. look, you see what's happening in florida in the south right now, the fightback that's happening. kids know movement matters. in many ways it started with mandela, young folks increasingly leading our country right now. he was the one who affirmed for us that movement matters.
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it transforms. being part of movement is not just something that we should do but something we must do. if we do it our world will be better. >> former naacp president and ceo ben jealous, thank you as always, my friend. thank you for your time. >> thank you, alex. >> thank you to my folks in new york, karen and eugene. do not forget to catch karen this and every weekend on "disrupt" 4:00 eastern on msnbc. that's all for now. i'll see you monday at noon eastern. "andrea mitchell reports" is coming up next. yes. is this the thing you gave my husband? well, yeah, yes. the "name your price" tool. you tell us the price you want to pay, and we give you a range of options to choose from. careful, though -- that kind of power can go to your head. that explains a lot. yo, buddy! i got this. gimme one, gimme one, gimme one! the power of the "name your price" tool. only from progressive. [ female announcer ] can you bridge a divide with a fresh baked brownie?
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reports," celebrating the life of nelson mandela. >> i stand here before you not as a profit but as humble servant of you, the people. >> a giant among then, activist, prisoner, leader, a president, a founding father. for the legions who revered him simple madiba. >> our nation has lost its greatest son. >> my very first political action, the first thing i ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics was a protest against apartheid. >> by the power of his example demonstrated


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